Ethnoburban development in Melbourne

From the 2011 Glen Waverley Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival. Photo: Alpha (Flickr/Creative Commons).

The Age ran an article this week about the Melbourne suburb of Glen Waverley, which is quickly becoming an enclave for affluent, well-educated Chinese migrants. Currently, Mainland China is the country that sends the most migrants to Australia. Many arrive in the country as international students and decide to settle (although “settling” in the era of transnational capital flows may still involve plenty of back-and-forth travel and living arrangements, as detailed in Aiwha Ong‘s Flexible Citizenship).

But why are so many choosing Glen Waverley? The answer is that it provides the crucial building blocks to begin a life in a new country: good public school education, transport, a safe environment and – an important factor – other new migrants.

This demographic shift makes Glen Waverley analogous to other affluent “ethnoburban” communities in Western settler societies: Arcadia and Rowland Heights near Los Angeles, for example, or Markham near Toronto.

Interestingly, in the accompanying photo gallery the editors decided to focus on school performance in Glen Waverley:

Last year Glen Waverley’s school was the highest performing non-selective state school in the VCE, and 80% of its enrolment have Asian backgrounds.

Which came first, the Asian students or the high performance?